The Phases of Gambling Addiction
The second phase of gambling addiction, which often leads to the formation of gambling as a predicted behavior is the natural tendency that all humans have, where pleasurable behavior is rewarding, and therefore the person “learns” of gambling as a rewarding behavior.
The third phase of this addiction is often noted by avoidance of a painful experience, in this case losing. Once loosing occurs, which is always expected to happen, the addicted person experiences the opposite of a reward: they experience punishment. However, the person quickly “learns” that the best way to avoid the painful feelings of losing (punishment) is to engage in what was once rewarding: more gambling.
And so the roller coaster begins, and gambling turns into one strongly formed type of addiction. The addiction receives its strength both by the activation of the reward center in the brain (when one wins) and by the temporary avoidance the painful emotions (punishment of losing) by doing more gambling.
Something else that also happens along the way is the formation of some type of magical thinking. For example, gamblers often believe they have formed some type of cause and effect relationship between their gambling and their winning incidences. Wearing a lucky shirt, betting in progressively larger amounts of bets, and going in on certain days of the week or certain hours of the day, are among the magical thinking patterns.
Gambling, as true with substance addiction, can lead to secondary physical and mental illnesses.
Sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, problems with concentration and interpersonal conflicts in one’s home and work environment are frequently found to be co-occurring. Sexual dysfunction, elevated blood pressure, body pain and fatigue, inflammation and digestive issues are also among the physical issues reported. Financial distress is a common result and stressor.